Without Game Of Thrones to woo us every week with dragons and battles, what is one meant to do with that Foxtel subscription? Apart from keep up with the Kardashians, we'd suggest heading to HBO's newest series, Chernobyl. Currently the highest rated show on IMDB, the five-part miniseries follows the real events of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, where a nuclear power facility exploded in the Soviet Union — now Ukraine. Thrilling, brilliantly produced and best of all, true, the series is as gripping as they come — and definitely a must-watch.
What is Chernobyl's story about?
Chernobyl follows the story of scientists Valery Legasov (played by Jared Harris) and Ulana Khomyuk (Emily Watson) and politician Boris Shcherbina (Stellan Skarsgård) as they navigate the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, considered to be one of the worst man made catastrophes of all time. The blast, which resulted in the nuclear core of Reactor 4 at the Pripyat power station completely exposed, saw about 100,000 die of long term health effects and the entire surrounding precinct evacuated and changed forever.
Where can I watch Chernobyl in Australia?
Like with Game Of Thrones, the only way to watch Chernobyl is via Foxtel.
How much of HBO’s Chernobyl is true?
The character of Ulana, played by Emily Watson, is fictional, and instead draws on the experiences of many scientists working on the accident — meaning that no, she didn’t burst in and save the day. In fact, some experts have questioned in there were any female scientists involved at all.
The main story is generally all true, but with a bit of artistic liberty. The main scientist, Valery, didn’t get woken up in the middle of the night. In fact, he found out about the disaster at that first meeting where he was invited as an expert, where he already had ties to the central committee of the Soviet Union. He also had a family — and his daughter has since spoken out about his tapes, which were real explained his experience of the explosion and the events following.
There were a few other small changes, including the crash of the helicopter, which actually happened two weeks after the event, not days later. Likewise, the claim that contaminated groundwater could wipe out most of Eastern Europe was an artistic hyperbole, with producers telling Variety it was “an exaggeration.” The risk was, however, still significant.
What were the long lasting effects of the Chernobyl explosion?
The long term health effects of the Chernobyl explosion were severe. According to reports, up to 90 per cent of local children developed cancer, and 5 per cent of adults. An estimated 100,000 people died due to radiation over time. Animals in the Chernobyl exclusion zone (on the Belarus side) are famously deformed, prompting many a story and a few documentaries. And although you can visit the Pripyat power station today, radiation levels aren’t safe to stay long. People who work inside the tourist site can only work for three weeks before having time off, and visitors can't stay for long.